Amid to the extraordinary events of the past few months that have led to an almost unprecedented rescheduling of the Architecture Biennale in Venice, La Biennale Venezia, on the occasion of its 125th anniversary of the foundation, is now launching an extraordinary exhibition called The Disquieted Muses. When Meets History

This exhibition will be presenting a series of documents, archival materials, rare footage, artworks, and research, to examine the many times when the history of La Biennale has overlapped with the history of the world—revealing or generating institutional rifts and political and ethical crises, but also new creative languages. It will be held in the Central Pavilion of the Giardini della Biennale from Saturday, August 29 to Tuesday, December 8, 2020.

This is the first exhibition to be curated by all the artistic directors of La Biennale’s six departments. Working together, they have used the one-of-a-kind sources of the Historical Archives of La Biennale and other Italian and international archives to retrace key moments during the 20th century when La Biennale crossed paths with history in Venice.

Cecilia Alemani (Art), Alberto Barbera (Cinema), Marie Chouinard (Dance), Ivan Fedele (Music), Antonio Latella (Theatre) and (Architecture) have drawn on the materials of the ASAC, Istituto Luce-Cinecittà and Rai Teche, but also on the records of the Galleria Nazionale Arte Moderna di Roma, Fondazione Modena Arti Visive, Archivio Ugo Mulas, Aamod-Fondazione archivio audiovisivo del movimento operaio e democratico, Archivio Cameraphoto Arte Venezia, IVESER Istituto Veneziano per la Storia della Resistenza e della società contemporanea, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Fondazione Ugo e Olga Levi, Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia Roma, Tate Modern London.

The Disquieted Muses Venice Biennale

exhibition 1948, set design by Carlo Scarpa | Photography: Giacomelli

For this exhibition, designed by – a renowned Italian designers duo based in Amsterdam, The Netherland – the directors have selected rare footage, first-hand accounts, and a range of artworks, following various lines of research to examine the many times when the history of La Biennale has overlapped with the history of the world—revealing or generating institutional rifts and political and ethical crises, but also new creative languages.

The idea of the exhibition design was to make a modular system that could be at the same time easy to apply but versatile. We studied historical exhibitions held in the same location and used that as a starting point. For the facade for instance we are using 6 different photos of the central pavilion in different moments in time starting in 1895 to reconstruct how the building has been modified to fit the aesthetic and sometimes the politics of different historical moments.  The show is a celebration of the archival material of La Biennale di Venezia and our design is highlighting that” said Formafantasma.

The exhibition is laid out in the rooms of the Central Pavilion and weaves its way through all six disciplines: from Fascism (1928-1945) to the Cold War and new world order (1948-1964), to the unrest of ’68 and the Biennales chaired by Carlo Ripa di Meana (1974-78), then from the postmodernism to the first Architecture Biennale and until the 1990s, and the beginning of globalization.

The Disquieted Muses Venice Biennale

La Biennale 1975:  International workshop at Scandinavian Pavillion by architect Sverre Fehn  | Photography: Lorenzo Capellini

“What is unique about this archival exhibition is the way it puts the media next to each other to compete in their viability as expressive forms of (one) art but also to be present and represented in a non-hierarchical or classified way on the open grounds of the Giardini. Here they finally exchange ideas, forms, and contours, unified in the same space that has in the past given each its exclusive claims to expressiveness. La Biennale has become an open space of exchange among its many media. It has finally become one Biennale” said Hashim Sarkis, artistic director of the Venice Architecture Biennal 2021.

In a period of global instability that over the course of just a few months has brought a succession of environmental disasters, new pandemics, and social revolutions, La Biennale di Venezia serves as a wellspring and channel for the most innovative currents in the artistic disciplines of our era—but also continues to bear witness to the many shifts and crises that have supervened from the late nineteenth century to the present, like a seismometer recording the tremors of history.

Waiting for the Architecture Biennale next year, we look forward to visiting this particular exhibition and start breathing some fresh air of “normality” again!


The Disquieted Muses

From August 29 to December 8, 2020.

> Location
Central Pavilion at Giardini dell Biennale, Venice

> Opening times
Summer hours: 11.00 am – 7.00 pm
Winter hours (from October 6th): 10.00 am – 6.00 pm
Closed on Monday


Cover image: Austrian Pavillion by architect Josef Hoffmann, 1932 | Photography: Giacomelli